It is not I, but the Christ within who does the work.
These words traditionally begin the Silent Unity Prayer Service that takes place at Unity Village and throughout the world. By repeating them silently or aloud, we center our consciousness and still our meandering minds in preparation for prayer.
Let's take a closer look at the phrase: It is not I, but the Christ within who does the work. The “I” is easily understood as the personal self or individual will; some might say the ego or human side of our being. The perspective of the “I” is limited and too often grounded in personalities and preconceived outcomes. We believe this was Jesus’ understanding as He taught us: “I can do nothing on my own” (Jn. 5:30).
The “work” referred to in the sentence is also readily understood—it is the job of prayer, which is always to bring our consciousness to an awareness of God as the only power and presence and of ourselves as whole and perfect children of God.
What exactly is “the Christ within” that does the sacred work? Why is its domain “within,” and “within” what? To answer these questions, we consider the word Christ and its relationship to Jesus and to each person.
Defining the Christ
Let's look at the words Jesus, Jesus Christ, and the Christ. Jesus is the man, the historical person of the New Testament times. Jesus is our Way Shower or Elder Brother who provides a direction and an example for all humankind to follow.
Christ is a title added to Jesus’ name. The word comes from the Greek Christos, meaning “anointed.” Jesus was so called because He was considered anointed by God.
Jesus recognized His own divinity, but more important He recognized the divinity of all God's creation. He knew that God anoints each person, “you anoint my head with oil,” and repeatedly directs us to recognize our own God nature. “You (emphasis added) are the light of the world,” (Mt. 5: 14). Paul adds to this idea: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
The Christ is the presence of God with which each person is anointed at creation. It is the eternal essence of God that is our true spiritual nature. It can be called the spark of God that ignites the human flame.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, Unity's cofounders, were clear and succinct in their realization of the Christ within: Charles states, “Christ is the mind of God individualized.” And Myrtle says, “Christ is the life principle within each of us.” Unity's early theorist, H. Emilie Cady, was equally direct in her explanation: “The Lord is the Christ of our own being.”
So you can see that the Christ within is actually the very presence of God at the core of our beings, that it does its work by simply being recognized. Remember that we remain spiritual beings no matter what appearances may suggest to the contrary.
It may also be helpful to consider how the Christ fits into Unity's concept of the Trinity. God is universal or Infinite Mind. The Son is God's Idea, the Christ of God.
The Holy Spirit is the Expression of the Idea. In other words, the Christ within is the Idea from the Mind of God that is given expression in human forms. It is the presence of God within doing God's work and will.
Why Go to the Christ Within?
Years ago after our house burned to the ground, a longtime friend gave my wife and me a copy of a metaphysical book from the 1920s titled The Game of Life and How to Play II by Florence Scovel Shinn. The book was tremendously soothing at the time, and both my wife and I read the slim volume over and over for several years.
One of the author's affirmations that gave me great comfort was: “I cast this burden on the Christ within, and go free.” It was my first exposure to the concept.
Myrtle Fillmore perfectly captures our need and reason to cast the burden on the Christ: “When you truly go to the Christ within yourself, instead of to your own thoughts, you will receive whatever you need. And unless you heed this instruction, drop the unwise things you have been insisting upon, and begin to think of God in you and about you as the total fullness of every good, you will seem to go through an eternity of confusion and lack and hungering. You must direct your prayers up—not up in the skies, but up into God consciousness. … Then you will speedily dissolve the old error beliefs and their counterparts in the manifest world.”
As a new student of Truth with a loss to overcome and a life to rebuild, I began to bolster my subconscious with the affirmation I cast this burden on the Christ and go free and to catch a glimpse of its tremendous value. I started to sense the power of going within and to achieve what Dr. Cady describes as “a definite inner revealing of the reality of an indwelling Christ through whom and by whom come life, health, peace, power, all things.” I then felt at peace to reevaluate priorities, relocate, and begin a new job.
In going to the Christ within, we are journeying to a place of true comprehension, to a level of awareness unclouded by our human thoughts and desires, to a consciousness in which God speaks directly to and through us.
Paul says that through God's spirit within we "may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth" (Eph. 3:18) of God's fullness. What a capability!
When we have true comprehension, all heaven breaks loose. As Myrtle Fillmore puts it, "The light of the Christ Mind enables one to see all things in right relation, so that peace can prevail." The right relation is that God, good, is omnipotent, and nothing is ever really separated from God.
This light of the Christ Mind that Mrs. Fillmore refers to is the peace, stillness, or silence in which Elijah was able to hear God (1 Kings 19:1 1-12). Metaphysically, first Elijah experiences the noisy and distracting wind, earthquake, and fire of mortal mind—without hearing God. Then with the ceasing of physical resistance and intent, in the “still small voice” of the King James Version or, interestingly, the “sound of sheer silence” in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Elijah hears God.
We turn to the Christ within because doing so puts us in touch with God's attributes, which are inherent to the Christ within and are therefore part of our true nature. We express the Christ within us through the twelve attributes or powers as enumerated by Charles Fillmore: love, faith, understanding, wisdom, imagination, zeal, strength, will, life, power, renunciation, and order. The peace we receive through these attributes enables such Christ ideas as resolution, forgiveness, healing, prosperity, success, and happiness to come into our experiences.
“I Am” Statements of the Christ Within
“I am who I am” (Ex. 3:14), God tells Moses. God's spirit as the “I Am” is present within us as the Christ.
In The Gospel According to John, “I Am” statements made by Jesus can guide us to an understanding of the Christ within. Consider the relationship of these statements to the truth of your being:
“I am the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12). As we have discussed, the Christ within provides the illumination that we need to comprehend truly and rightly.
“I am the gate” (Jn. 10:7). The essence of God within us is our gateway to the life of abundant love and harmony that God intends for us to have.
“I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11). Challenging “wolves” dissolve into their “native nothingness” when faced from a consciousness centered in the presence and power of God.
“I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25). On a very practical level, our fears and worries and limitations die when they come into contact with the Christ within. Then our minds are renewed or resurrected to see God's will, which is always good, going on in all situations, conditions, and relationships.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). We can use books, tapes, talks, magazine articles, sermons, churches, religions, or whatever we want as tools to help us focus on God's presence. Indeed, Jesus tells us that above all else, we should “seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt. 6:33 NKJV). In actuality, though, all these tools have the same purpose: to direct us to the Christ within, for it is within us that Jesus says we find God. “The kingdom of God is within you,” He says (Lk. 17:21 KJV).
“I am the true vine” (Jn. 15:1). We can grow spiritually straight only by turning to the Christ within.
These “I Am” statements make effective affirmations to direct our attention inward so that we can experience God's presence.
The Christ Within Is Universal
Christianity does not have a monopoly on the Christ within. We recognize it in all people, whatever nationality they may be or on whatever spiritual path they may walk.
The Christ is the universal presence of God at the center of every individual. It is God's gift to you.
We in Unity salute the Christ in you!